At a Glance: About a week ago, Lowtax, Integral and I were at Target looking through their fine selection of crappy bargain-priced software, and this game quickly caught our attention. It wasn’t the black-and-white cardboard slip serving as the jewel case insert that we noticed, nor was it the cover picture of a soldier glaring and firing what looks like a double-barreled flashlight off into the distance while another soldier performs an awkward little shuffling dance behind him. No, the part that commanded our attention was the little logo in the bottom center. It was the logo of the one company whose mere mention can make the average person’s blood pressure rise at a rapid enough rate to cause blood vessels to burst out of their forehead and spray blood high enough in the air to splatter passing aircraft. The logo that signifies impending torture and doom for the general gaming public while simultaneously guaranteeing hours of amusement for anybody associated with SA. The logo of Valu-Soft.
There was no description on the back of the case, since the installation and tech support information had been put on the back to save on printing costs, so I had to use my imagination to decide just what fantastic adventures this game would allow me to embark upon. The title suggested that the story had to do with World War 2 and/or Normandy, so I theorized that it was a war simulation from the point of view of a soldier during D-Day, which would be an interesting and ambitious idea for a budget game company to pull off. Naturally I was wrong. Turns out it’s an embarrassingly bad first-person shooter from the point of view of a soldier being dropped behind the German lines in Normandy to assist the troops who would storm the beach later that day. This is a difficult and dangerous task that entails walking from room to room and shooting a few people, then doing it about 40,000 more times. In order words it’s exactly like every other FPS in the world, except it’s a whole lot worse because, you know, it’s a Valu-Soft game.
My suspicions about the game’s quality deepened when I saw the notice on the title screen that World War 2 Normandy used the Lithtech engine. They only deepened further after I fought my way through the horribly broken menu system and saw my mission assignment, which was to parachute by myself into the middle of a hedge maze and shoot a bunch of German people in the face, an activity that most people would frown upon nowadays. I guess our standards of decency just weren’t as high back then. The mission briefing is followed by a white-knuckled, high-suspense cutscene that consists mostly of a still model of your guy slowly falling with a parachute on while planes fly all around him and tracers whizz by at speeds that occasionally exceed 5 miles per hour. The entire cutscene fades to black before you land (probably because showing the landing might require them to animate the model in some way) and then you are thrust into the wild and wacky world of Normandy.
It’s very sad when you can play a war simulation on the Hard setting and kill every enemy in sight simply by pretending you’re playing Quake. But thanks to the fine folks at 3LV, that’s exactly what happened. Ten seconds after I landed I was assaulted by a group of Germans who decided to be jerks and shoot at me. First I started holding down the spacebar and hopping all over the place like a happy little Nazi-slaughtering bunny rabbit. Then I ran out into the open and started circle-strafing around everybody while bouncing quickly enough to cover half a football field with each leap. Being master tacticians, the enemies decided to constantly shoot behind me, just so while I killed them all I’d be pained with the knowledge that if I still had my parachute on and had it trailing behind me, it would be full of bullet holes and wouldn’t work anymore. As a result, I managed to kill every single enemy in the first encounter without even taking a single hit. After doing this I restarted and did the exact same thing again, only this time I did it with the default knife. Yes, the AI is just as bad as it sounds, and although it doesn’t sound good to start with, it sounds even worse once you realize that it actually is as bad as it sounds. It sounds even worse if you paid any attention to that last sentence, which I highly doubt.
And you thought women had one-dimensional script intros that treated them like sex objects. Ewoks have it even worse.
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